Ronny Lam


People, Process, Technology: Challenges for Network Automation

When implementing Network Automation most engineers focus on tooling. And I can’t agree more, you cannot do proper Automation without proper tooling. But if you focus on tooling alone, Network Automation will fail, hard. A fool with a tool is still a fool.

Network Automation is more an organizational change. Besides changing Technology you have to change the organisation behind it, People and Processes. The latter two cost 80% of the energy of the change. Implementing a tool is easy, changing processes a bit harder, but to change the organizational culture to live by those new processes is the hardest thing of the project.

How do you change engineers that love the Command Line Interface? Their whole existence is that CLI. They can do everything through that CLI and their job is protected by that same CLI. Who else can reconfigure the network? Moving those engineers off the CLI can only be done by enforcing it the hard way, or by making their jobs more interesting, using that same CLI in an automated way. Engineers are still needed, their knowledge of the CLI is still needed and they will even gain additional skills.

Bottom-line, Network Automation is not about tooling. It is about People, Processes and Technology. In that order.